Category Archives: blog

Awesome written content only.

Star Wars Continues its Global Dominance

A long time ago in a galaxy far far away, well in the United States in 1977, a movie that would start of one of the world’s biggest franchises opened for the first time. Under very little promotion and mainly word of mouth, more and more people flocked to the cinema until there were long lines of queues around the block of the cinema. The film was such a surprise hit that it had to be moved to bigger and more venues just to accommodate everyone that wanted to watch it. It then took seven months to reach the UK and parts of Europe and some countries had to wait even longer.

Nearly four decades later, the release of the seventh film in the franchise last year couldn’t have been more different. The film was well known to be one of the biggest movie franchises already, and now Star Wars is part of the huge world of Disney it was only going to get bigger. Whilst normally any big movie like this would open in cinemas around the United States before anywhere else in the world, this wasn’t the case for The Force Awakens. The movie was released in some countries around Europe a day before it was released in the US. This meant that some diehard American fans that couldn’t bear to wait another 24 hours flew from America to Paris to be part of one of the world’s first screenings of the film.

As well as those diehard fans who had been waiting years for a new film in the franchise, there were a lot of people for who The Force Awakens would be the first Stars Wars film they would see. Wherever you looked around the world, it seemed like everyone was talking about their favorite moments from the past films as well as what to expect from the new ones. In Australia, the excitement was so widespread that even casino website Euro Palace’s blog created a cooler cheat sheet. The blog on the Euro Palace site has all the main events of the franchise broken down into a few paragraphs, so anybody who didn’t know the story of Star Wars could quickly brush up on what they needed to know.

Now Disney owns the film franchise, the excitement for the film rapidly built in the months and even years before the film’s release. Whenever JJ Abrams gave us a glimpse of the new film, the world’s media went wild. But it wasn’t just the internet and sites like Euro Palace where the world went wild for Star Wars. In shops and supermarkets around the world, there weren’t many places where you could walk into and not find something with a Star Wars character on. So much so that it’s expected thatDisney will make more money from their official merchandise alone than the actual film. One thing for sure is that the film is so big that wherever you are in the world, you could walk up to someone and it’s more than likely that they will have seen the film.

 

 

Meet Laura Dern and Benicio Del Toro – The New Faces of Star Wars Episode VIII

Let’s talk about Episode VIII.

It’s always exciting to meet the new cast of a star Wars film. I’d like to say I have an inkling of what role Laura Dern and Benicio Del Toro will have but I don’t.  What I’d like to explore today is their history and what they might bring to the Star Wars universe.

Laura Dern

Most famous role: 

Laura Dern played Dr. Ellie Sattler in Jurassic Park.

8661466464_7563f0a015_o

Known for:

Known for her role in 1991’s Rambling Rose. She was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress as well as for her performance in the 2014 film Wild.

Personal fact:

Has stated her idols are Katharine Hepburn, Barbara Stanwyck and Lucille Ball.

Benicio Del Toro

Most famous role:

The Collector – Guardians of the Galaxy

Guardians-of-the-Galaxy-Character-Poster-The-Collector-slice

Known for:

Being the villain. All the time. He won an Academy Award for his portrayal of Javier Rodríguez in the film Traffic (2000)

Personal fact:

His “family urged him to become a lawyer because they felt there was no future in acting.

Episode VIII is closer than ever to release!

-@Therileyguy

On Rebels, Ezra Frees Space Willy

Quick note: this is not a full review. If you want that, cool, and we can help you out. Here, we take a closer look at several aspects of the episode. As always, SPOILERS from here on out.

(Author’s Note: Yes, I’m aware Willy was a dolphin and I call the Purrgil ‘space whales’ on multiple occasions. I’m entirely okay with the inaccuracy.)

This week’s episode of Star wars Rebels, entitled The Call, begins with a most fantastical sight: space whales. What’s weird about this entrance – besides the obvious – is that only Ezra can hear their whale song. And what is it that they’re singing, you may/may not be asking? ‘Welcome, puny humin,’ they are saying, ‘to one of the weirdest episodes of Rebels you’ll ever see.’ They’re right, too, and I couldn’t be happier.

*Whale puts on funny voice* Hallo, I are humin. I do funny humin things.

The Call was a light-hearted, beautiful, admittedly shallow episode, and one that I enjoyed almost every minute of. However, I’d like to highlight something that Star Wars Report’s Bethany Blanton mentioned in the comments on a previous review, something that very much applied for this episode – and not in a very good way.

Unit Cooperation

It seems like it happens every week with our Spectres: they’re in a tight spot and come up with a barely-there plan to get out of it/complete their primary objective. Of course, things don’t go according to plan, often because it’s a hastily put together plan, or more likely because they don’t communicate at all well and one of them* goes off the rails. It does usually pay off for them, but I can conceive of this becoming a problem, both in and out of universe.

*Not naming names but it rhymes with Fezra. Shuddup I know that’s not a word.

Out of universe, it can be a quick pathway to lazy and rote storytelling (i.e. the dark side), and if things can get too repetitive, it can turn the viewer off. If we’re getting the same story every week, only with different set dressing, what’s there to keep us interested? What’s going to keep us invested in the story when, no matter the danger, we know that their hastily reshaped plan will see them through? Maybe a little battered, sure, but ultimately going on to fight another day.

But this could also be something of a long con; the writers could be playing us. In universe, our Spectres may gripe about sudden changes in plans, but they’ll know that it mostly works. With that in the back of their mind, they could go into each subsequent mission thinking, ‘eh, so we have the broad strokes of a plan. We can just make things up as we go along.’ And this can certainly work for them, but much like lazy writing, it’s lazy thinking, too. And when your life is on the line, that’s just the sort of thing to get you killed.

To return briefly to our own universe, look to [INSERT YOUR OWN COUNTRY OF ORIGIN HERE]’s special forces. For me, that’s the SAS, who train day in and day out becoming proficient at whatever scenario they may encounter. Their training doesn’t stop there: Several years ago there was a siege at the Iranian embassy in London. In preparation for their assault, the SAS obtained the schematics for the embassy and hastily made a set based on these floor plans. For hours they trained, going through these rooms one by one, clearing of them of (fake) enemy combatants, until they had learned the building layout off by heart, and their actions became muscle memory. Their efforts paid off when the siege ended, with only one loss of life.

Now to apply that to Rebels – this is what planning and attention to detail gets you: survival. Nothing can really stop a well aimed blaster shot, or even a random one, but being able to rely on your teammates means you can more effectively operate and see the day through. And it would be great to see this innatention to planning have some real consequences for the Spectres. It would show that the writers are cognizant of the fact that they’re relying on the same type of narrative steps for a large number of episodes. It would also demonstrate to us the audience that the show is capable of depth by demonstrating that such blithe acts have far-reaching consequences – something that the show has not shown much of thus far (that said, it is early days). Oh my, it sounds as though I’m quite eager for our heroes to die. That’s not the case at all.

And on a totally unrelated note …

Ezra Watch

That’s it, down a little. Aww yeah, that’s the spot, humin.

Though I may have taken a brief potshot at Ezra earlier, for all of my disliking of him, I absolutely must be fair: he was not too bad this episode. Sure, he messed up the plan, and yes, he wasn’t at all listening in the first place, but considering he had just connected (while in Ghost, that is. I don’t mean the mind-meld he experiences later) with an intra-galactic migratory sentient species, his spaced-outness was entirely understandable. Not just that, but he demonstrated a strong empathy for their situation and immediately sought to help them, no matter the danger to himself or his fellow Spectres (but again being fair, he should have better communicated the situation to his teammates), and he managed all this while maintaining a good degree of maturity. Add to that his powers are growing to a degree that he, and not Kanan, could hear their whale song and could connect to them while Kanan was busy practicing his Resting Smug Face ™ points to his character developing into one that I can actively root for. Yippee!

The Science of Star Wars

There is none. Move along.

Hera

This being one of the few episodes where Hera actually gets some screen time, she even manages to get her own mini arc. That is to say, she hates the space whales (known as purrgils, if we’re being technical) in the beginning, whereas at the end she doesn’t – still pretty thin on the ground, but I’ll take it. She should really watch some nature documentaries; I feel that they would have changed her outlook a lot quicker and involved less death.

Wait a second, can we have that? A nature documentary set in the Star Wars galaxy, that is. Narrated by David Attenborough, of course.

But that brings me to an uncomfortable comparison. As we see in the beginning, Hera is more than happy to shoot these sentient creatures, despite the fact that they are running desperately low on power. Later, we see the Mining Guild do just that, and they have all the power on the planetoid for their cannons. And though we do get some sympathetic reasoning behind Hera’s motivation, the fact that both the hero and the villain wish to perform the same action within a span of ten minutes is a little discomforting.

Full disclosure: I prefer not to read articles based on episodes or items that I know I’ll review. Prior to writing this, I had read this article by Eleven-Thirtyeight, which touches upon this very subject and so I’ll say no more. I’d highly recommend you reading it, too.

And though I thought it was slightly out of character for her wanting to blast these irksome yet majestic creatures, since it gives us even a minor look into her past and inner thoughts, I gladly welcome its inclusion.

Star Wars Episode VIII Starts Filming – New Teaser!

The changing of the guard has occurred. Director Rian Johnson has taken the reigns from J.J Abrams  and started filming Episode VIII today in London.

Rian Johnson

And we got this amazing little tease courtesy of the fine folks at Lucasfilm. Check it out:

There are two precious new shots which offer a slightly different take on the final moments in The Force Awakens.

#SullenLuke #ReyStare

It may be brief, but think about this: We now have an officially released teaser for Episode VIII before we get one for Rogue One. And VIII is released a full year later.

-Riley

Filler Episodes?

star-wars-rebels-season-2-keyart-1536x864-531987300980

I make no secret of the fact that I am biased towards Star Wars.  Movies, books, video games, comics, TV shows, whatever, I love it all.  It takes a lot for me to admit I did not enjoy something Star Wars related.  We are lucky enough to live in a time where we get weekly brand new Star Wars adventures on our TV screen through Star Wars Rebels.  Needless to say, I’m enjoying the show quite a bit.  That’s not to say the show doesn’t have flaws.  As much as we want it to be, nothing is perfect.

What has been bothering me of late is the talk of “filler episodes” in Star Wars Rebels.  This term is usually used when you have a show with a larger on going story arc or mythology (Lost, X-Files, Battlestar Galactica, etc.) and you have a one-off episode that doesn’t contribute anything to the larger story.  It’s usually there to fill the 24 episodes that make up your average TV season.

legends-lasat_92_9dbc9778

Now, Star Wars Rebels doesn’t have a larger story arc at work, at least not in my eyes.  Yes, there are multi-episode stories and there are plot lines that haven’t yet been fulfilled, but the show is about the crew of the Ghost and their adventures as they fight against the Empire.  At least, that’s how I see the show.  The show isn’t centered around Ezra’s Jedi training or the formation of the Rebel Alliance.  These are facets to the show and important parts, but they are not the main thrust of the show.

Since Rebels came back from the winter hiatus we’ve been getting a different kind of episode than we were used to.  The episodes have been smaller in scale and much more character focused.  The Sabine-Mando episode gave us a glimpse into not only her past, but also the state of the Mandalorians during the rise of the Empire.  Zeb’s episode explored his connection to his people and the future of the Lasat race.  The raid on the fuel depot showed not only Ezra’s burgeoning abilities to connect, but also the state of Phoenix Squadron, and by extension, the Rebel Alliance, as they try desperately to keep ahead of the Empire and maintain supply lines.

starwarstheclonewars

From the beginning of the show, I immediately loved these characters and I wanted to know more about them.  Each one of the characters has a very personal reason for being on board the Ghost and for standing up to the Empire.  It hardly seems like “filler” when we get stories that begin to show us what has brought them there.  The stories in Rebels are primarily focused on one particular section of the galaxy and the focus is on a smaller cast of characters.  This in direct contrast to The Clone Wars where we had a large cast of characters who were traveling all over the galaxy.

I’m not sure what people mean when they complain about a “filler episode.”  Do they want more of Ezra and Kanan’s Jedi training?  Or maybe they want more of the fight against the Empire?  Both of these lead to a similar conclusion.  If our heroes win too many times, then it makes the Empire seem weak, and it’s hard to have a bad guy seem threatening when they can easily be dispatched week in and week out.  Clone Wars faced a similar problem with their villains.  Cobra doesn’t seem very threatening when we see GI Joe defeat them every episode.  If Kanan and Ezra can easily defeat the Imperial troops or even the Inquisitors then we no longer have a credible enemy.

concord-dawn_48_0828cd53

If the crew of the Ghost is fighting the Empire every day the only option for backstory is to have the characters sit around and talk about it, which is less than compelling drama.  Show, don’t tell.  We saw Sabine directly confronted with the Mandalorians, we saw Zeb deal with the Lasat.  We saw Kanan directly deal with the clones.  We saw the Ghost out of fuel and how far they had to go to resupply the fleet.

As I said, I’m biased towards anything Star Wars and I love Star Wars Rebels.  I haven’t felt like any of the episodes of the show so far have been “filler.”  If anything, one of my big complaints is that I want more of these stories and the 22 minute length forces the episodes to end abruptly.